Why We Should Embrace, Not Resist, Our Changing Bodies
The mirror is no longer just a place to see our reflections, it’s become the central place to assess and criticize our flaws. My stomach should be tighter. My legs should be skinnier. My butt should be firmer. The laws of what our bodies should and shouldn’t look like cause insecurities in women of all shapes and sizes from a young age and these feelings are only perpetuated by the growing use of social media platforms like Instagram that push filtered images of ‘perfection’ in front of us every single day. We are only human, and it is in our nature to want to be wanted and loved. Yet we are taught from a young age that, to be desired by another is the ultimate reward. But in order to achieve that desire you must acquire a look that is so niche and unrealistic that it’s often hard to ever feel at peace with yourself when looking at your own reflection.
The pressure placed on women by society has always been a known issue but, to be honest, it was never something I felt directly affected by. I consider myself to be a very body-positive person and I stay fit and healthy, not because I see stick-thin models in magazines but, because I want to stay fit and healthy for myself.
It wasn’t until I fell pregnant that I started to think more about the unrealistic images of the ‘ideal woman’ that are thrust onto us every day and how hugely unfair that is on us. We are expected to have perfectly tight flat stomachs, toned, long legs, slender and delicate arms and long flowing luscious hair yet, we are also expected to bear children. Our uteruses are stretched to the size of a watermelon (usually they are the size of a small pear), our stomachs expand to a size that our skin cannot provide sufficient amounts of elasticity to cope with, our breasts expand and deflate more than a balloon at a children’s party and our bodies are filled with more hormones than they know what to do with, causing crazy effects on our skin, emotional wellbeing and energy levels. After all that, we have to push something the size of a watermelon out of an opening the size of a peach and then we’re expected to bounce back to goddess-level perfection and engage in the process of pro-creation all over again.
The idea of body image issues is something I started to think about more and more when I fell pregnant and I think this is the case for a lot of women. After all, for most, there may be no other time in their lives when their body goes through such a large size and weight difference between one and nine months.
To me, accepting our changing bodies is by no means isolated to pregnancy. Our bodies change throughout our entire lives yet, the image of the ‘perfect woman’ stays exactly the same and I think that sucks. Our changing bodies are what make us superhuman — seriously, how is it possible that we can grow life inside of us, run marathons or become weightlifters if we are apparently ‘the weaker sex’? Despite the amount of crap going on in our bodies, we still continue to have more female CEOs, more successful female millionaires and entrepreneurs and fight the stereotypical pressures of what an ‘ideal woman’ looks like.
I am both in awe of and inspired by my changing body and, being only in the early stages of pregnancy, I still have more surprises to come. In the space of one year, my body has run the New York Marathon, created a baby and will, of course, give birth to one too. Not only am I damn proud of that but I could care less if there’s a couple of stretch marks or loose skin that’s left after that — I’d expect that at the very least! I will continue to do the things that make me happy like running, cooking or indulging in my favorite sweet treats and I will embrace my new body like the temple that it is. We all should, because we are all rockstars.